On average rare breed sows such as ours produce fewer piglets than the ‘factory-bred’ commercial varieties such as the Large White. The average is about 10, which is fine, not least because a pig has only 12 teats and might struggle with a larger brood.
But on December 22nd, this beauty of ours produced 16, and they all survived. She started to farrow during the night and finished at about 2am, attended throughout by Jean. Jean’s careful husbandry ensured that they all survived. She knew that if sows are allowed to pig on their own some will inevitably be lost.
The only problem is- there are now too many piglets for the number of teats, so the piglets have to queue, as this video shows.
An enterprising pig farmer in Yorkshire, after reading that the Chinese produce 40 million tons of pork a year, to our 800,000 tons, went to investigate and he found a variety of Chinese pig with 16 teats. He has now crossed this with an English pig to produce the first breed here with 16 teats and the subsequent increase in productivity has enabled him to expand so fast that he now has the largest pig farm in the country. Good luck to him, but I think we’ll stick to our mammary-challenged British breeds.